Al Batt: Missing a friend and fellow ball player

Published 5:20 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I visited family in western Alaska.             

Nome?

They’re my family. Of course, I know them.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. The Wunderle Candy Company of Philadelphia invented candy corn in the 1880s. They called it “chicken feed.” I believe that original candy corn is still being given to trick-or-treaters every Halloween.

I paid my last respects to Jim Peterson of New Richland. Jim had been a township officer, county commissioner and a good guy. Visitations bring memories, often surprising ones. There was a time when Jim and I, plus nearly every guy we knew, played ball. We all started wearing batting gloves. The gloves were supposed to enhance grip and dexterity, bring comfort to the hand and make us look even cooler than we already did. In other words, batting gloves were a quick path to stardom. Many of us bought batting gloves from local sporting goods stores, but not Jim. Jim wore work gloves when he batted and they worked just fine. I’m glad I knew Jim Peterson.

What did Jim swinging a bat while he wore work gloves and candy corn have in common? Not a thing, but I’ll miss Jim and I wouldn’t miss candy corn.

Those thrilling days of yesteryear

The neighbor had a pet Falcon. It was a red Ford with three flat tires. The tires didn’t matter as the car hadn’t run for years.

A customer at a local cafe pointed to the mustard on the table and asked, “Is that mustard hot?” The waitress said, “No, but I’ll be glad to warm it up for you.”

A neighbor had quit smoking. It was a lengthy battle for a man with a two-pack-a-day habit. When asked if he thought he’d ever start smoking again, he replied, “I don’t know, but I’ll never quit again.”

Customer comments

Duane Miller of Hartland raised a 220-pound pumpkin this year. He wrote it was a far cry from the 1,104.5-pound winner of the Minnesota State Fair’s giant pumpkin contest. It’s a good thing acorns grow on trees and pumpkins don’t. Mother Nature did some thoughtful work there. Duane’s pumpkin was 220 pounds heavier than any pumpkin I raised this year. I learned a couple of gardeners in New Zealand raised a 17.4-pound potato this year. That’s a lot of tater tots. They named the potato Doug. I think Duane should call his pumpkin Sasquash.

I’ve learned

A wet dog is a friendly dog.

If you can’t remember someone’s name, take them to Starbucks.

Chihuahuas were originally bred to be used as paperweights.

In local headlines

Park ranger charged with arboring animals.

Broom in grocery store caused the Canadian bacon to curl.

English class thought “Great Expectations” would be better.

Store’s sale on Legos had people lining up for blocks.

King Midas School for Gifted Parents opens.

“Cats” opens at the Litter Box Theater.

Ask Al

“What is the biggest cause of dry skin?” Towels.

“Where is the birthplace of the Mississippi River?” The Mississippi River Maternity Hospital.

“What’s the secret to a long life?” Start young.

“What is it called when a beehive has no exit?” Unbeeleaveable.

“How did you become so tall when your mother was so short?” I attended a personal growth seminar.

The jays of our lives

The yard crows kicked up a fuss. Crows can’t keep a secret. There was a puff of cold wind that led to a puff of house sparrow. A bird’s body heat warms the air between its feathers, so birds fluff up in the cold to trap as much warm air in their feathers as possible. The more trapped air there is, the warmer the bird.

A blue jay picked up several peanuts in the shell on my feeder before flying off with one. A study published in the Journal of Ornithology suggested that the bird was weighing the peanuts and shaking them to determine the quality. When presented with ten empty and ten full identical pods, the jays rejected the empty ones and accepted the full peanuts without opening them. The jays preferred the heavier nuts.

We don’t find many dead birds. There is no secret avian graveyard. Vulnerable birds seek secluded places, hoping rest would help them recover. Scavengers and predators find those weak or deceased birds. Dead ones not found by predators or scavengers decompose rapidly, with the help of bacteria and insects.

Meeting adjourned

“Do you wish the world were happy? Then remember day by day, just to scatter seeds of kindness as you pass along the way.”—Ella Wheeler Wilcox.